SK1846 : Royal Shrovetide crossing the Henmore Brook

taken 9 years ago, near to Ashbourne, Derbyshire, Great Britain

Royal Shrovetide crossing the Henmore Brook
Royal Shrovetide crossing the Henmore Brook
Time for some of the Downards to step in as the 'hug' breaks off upstream.
Royal Shrovetide Football

The traditional Shrovetide game is held on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday each year. The teams are made up of players born on either side of the Henmore Brook, the Uppards or Up'ards and the Down'ards. The object is to carry a cork filled football from the turn-up podium to the upstream goal at Sturston or the downstream goal at Clifton. The scorer has to tap the ball three times on the goal and is carried aloft back into town.

SK2046 : Sturston Goal SK1644 : The "New" Clifton Goal

The ball is turned-up by an invited celebrity at 2pm and can continue until 10pm. If a goal is scored before 5pm another ball can be turned-up.

The playing field comprises the fields and watercourse along three miles of the Henmore Brook together with the town itself. The only warnings were to keep out of churches, churchyards and private property. The town prepares by boarding up the glass in windows and doors around the market place. Some businesses close up for the two days.

It is often held in freezing conditions with snow on the ground with frequent excursions into the Henmore Brook.

Although it may appear to be a shambles there are tactics involved. The main scrum is known as the 'hug' which moves and sways. SK1645 : Royal Shrovetide Football Sculpture

From time to time the ball is ripped clear and a 'runner' will take this on. A favourite tactic is to take the ball into the Henmore Brook where the river specialists take over. Often you will see a screen of players covering breakaways.

The event attracts large crowds who follow the action for hours through the fields. The crowd gathers then scatters as the 'hug' moves in their direction. After a break the crowd rushes after the action leaping across watercourses and wading though the mud.

The spiritual home of the game was the Green Man Hotel but this has been closed since 2011. After several auctions contracts were exchanged and the premises were sold in January 2013.

Contrary to much quoted belief the game did not acquire its 'Royal' title when Edward VII as Prince of Wales 'turned up' or started the game in 1928 and got a bloody nose. The 'Royal' title was awarded after a painted ball was presented to Princess Mary on her marriage to Lord Lascelles some six years earlier on Shrove Tuesday 1922. More recently Prince Charles 'turned up' in 2003. Footballing legend Brian Clough started the game in 1975 but at the time it was felt this brought in a rough element of outsiders from Derby and Nottingham.

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SK1846, 281 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Tuesday, 12 February, 2013   (more nearby)
Tuesday, 12 February, 2013
Geographical Context
Rivers, Streams, Drainage  Suburb, Urban fringe  People, Events 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 182 467 [100m precision]
WGS84: 53:1.0537N 1:43.7465W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 182 467
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West-southwest (about 247 degrees)
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